Deccan Dal & Spinach

By / Food / November 23rd, 2022 / Like

By Joe Thottungal

For the last 16 years, I have taken Tuesdays off and we have cooked as a family. It makes the kids so happy, and my wife, Suma, is able to take a break from the kitchen and be my guest as we enjoy an amazing homemade meal together. My daughter, Marieann, and my son Michael are all about grilled steak. They are on the fancier side of the spectrum, but my other son, Mathew, enjoys a simple dal. This one-pot meal is all he needs and he’s happy.


PREP TIME: 20 minutes COOK TIME: 25 minutes


  • 3 cups dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tbsp + ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ tsp ground turmeric 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tbsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tbsp cumin seeds 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, bring the lentils and water to a boil. Reduce the heat and add 1 tablespoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the turmeric and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft. Set aside.

In a small frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and stir until fragrant. Add the curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic, and green chilies and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once the shallots are translucent, add the remaining turmeric and the chili powder. Cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and spinach and cook for 2 minutes.

Bring the lentils back to a simmer, add the spinach mixture, and bring to a boil. Season with the remaining salt, the lime juice, and the cilantro. Serve with steamed basmati rice. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

About Joanna Fox: 

Joanna Fox has written about food, restaurants, wine, travel, art and culture for newspapers and magazines, including The Globe and Mail, the Montreal Gazette, enRoute, Chatelaine, Canadian Living, Style at Home and Bon Appétit. She is currently an editor at ELLE Canada and was previously an editor at Ricardo, working on the company’s magazine and cookbooks. She is the co-author of Chuck’s Day Off by Chuck Hughes, the editor of Olive + Gourmando: The Cookbook by Dyan Solomon and collaborates on cookbook projects with chefs from coast to coast. Joanna lives in Montreal with her partner and their own little critic, their son.Little Critics: What Canadian Chefs Cook for Kids (and Kids Will Actually Eat) is out now.

Excerpted from Little Critics: What Canadian Chefs Cook for Kids (and Kids Will Actually Eat) by Joanna Fox. Foreword by Frederic Morin. Copyright © 2022 Joanna Fox. Photography by Dominique Lafond. Photos on pages, 30, 31, 88, 89, 91, 124, 125, 212, 213, 220, 221, 237, 248, 253, 254, 255, and 256 by Maya Visnyei; and on pages 60, 61, 84, and 253 by Viranlly Liemena. Book Design by Talia Abramson. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


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